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Four experiments explored the interrelations between working memory, attention, and eye movements. Observers had to identify a tilted line amongst vertical distractors. Each line was surrounded by a colored shape that could be precued by a matching item held in memory. Relative to a neutral baseline, in which no shapes matched the memory item, search was more efficient when the memory cue matched the shape containing the target, and it was less efficient when the cued stimulus contained a distractor. Cuing affected the shortest reaction times and the first saccade in search. The effect occurred even when the memory cue was always invalid but not when the cue did not have to be held in memory. There was also no evidence for priming effects between consecutive trials. The results suggest that there can be early, involuntary top-down directing of attention to a stimulus matching the contents of working memory.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform

Publication Date





248 - 261


Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Attention, Cues, Eye Movements, Female, Fixation, Ocular, Humans, Male, Memory, Reaction Time, Saccades